This has a complex yet refined nose of sliced apples peach pits smoked almonds wet stones chalk and white pepper. Hints of beeswax juniper and cedar too. Itâ€™s medium-bodied elegant and light-footed yet powerful too. Creamy layers of stones and stone fruit slowly evolve to blanched almonds and nougat. Very long and precise. Try this from 2024. From biodynamically grown grapes.
I missed the Chacra wines the last time I covered Argentina during the pandemic, so from the 2018s, we jump to the 2021s whites, the top of which is the 2021 Chacra Chardonnay, produced by Jean-Marc Roulot with the help of the Chacra team. It comes from the proper Chacra Vineyard, from 40-year-old vines on mineral soils with alluvial stones covered with calcium carbonate. It fermented with indigenous yeasts, 10% in clay amphorae, 15% in concrete eggs and 75% in French oak barrels, and 75% of the wine matured in barrel for nine months, while 25% of the volume was kept in concrete for that time. It has 13% alcohol and a pH of 3.3. There is a big jump in subtleness, precision and elegance from the other Chardonnay; this comes from better vines, with better soil, more limestone, and it shows the energy, the chalkiness and the sapid sensation, almost saline in the finish. It's high pitched, pure, elegant and subtle, with a velvety mouthfeel but vibrant and full of energy, floral, perfumed, nuanced and with great purity and precision, like a laser cut with the Roulot laser... 14,000 bottles were produced. It was bottled in January 2022.
Chacra is the fully certified organic and biodynamic project in Río Negro (Patagonia) from Piero Incisa della Rocchetta (you might recognize the Sassicaia surname here). He works 25 hectares of red grapes and a further 15 hectares of Chardonnay, all ungrafted and massal selections in Mainqué. Four years ago, they stopped using any chemicals in the vineyard, even sulfur, and have increased the number of beehives and replaced the capsules by beeswax. He has lowered the use of barrels (almost none new) and increased amphorae and concrete, aiming at enhancing the floral, mineral and energy aspects of their wines. They have built a new underground barrel room with bricks made out of local clay and stopped the use of refrigeration, instead using the natural temperature and also humidity (and salt from the river). Evaporation there is lower, and he finds the wines age better. He has also planted a further 30,000 poplar trees to give shade to the vines. Production varies between 125,000 and 135,000 bottles, depending on the vintage. For the white wines, he has the help of Jean-Marc Roulot. 2021 was quite cold but with a warm summer, which is normal in the region that delivered medium-bodied wines with floral and fruit-driven aromas and around 12.5% alcohol. I had a very long tasting with Piero and discussed the wines thoroughly. He wants to make the most delicious wines with no science, but he doesn't like Brett; though he is quite tolerant with volatility, which he says is quite high in all his wines but somehow is not noticeable. Since he introduced the bees, he's never had a fermentation stop. They work with cover crops (seven different ones, mainly mustard), and they are optimizing the use of water for irrigation. The organic and biodynamic approach is delivering results, and the plants are balanced after 20 years of respectful viticulture. The wines are clean, balanced, fresh and pure, alive. They have the protection from the lees, and depending on the years, they filter or not.
He has the idea to build a new separate winery for the wines with no sulfur (no more than 25,000 bottles) and is producing new wines, a Syrah, a Bastardo (Trousseau) and a Moscatel, and he has also regrafted a little Poulsard. He's also working in the social aspect of the people who work in the winery, food from the vegetable garden and even houses with solar panels...